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  • Tuesday, September 18, 2012 10:29 PM | Anonymous

    By Haley Richardson, ART Reporter
    Laurie Duke, Copy Editor

    Curator of Photography Michael Lorenzini discusses some of the fragile photographs being treated at the New York City Department of Records and Information Services Conservation Lab, 12 September 2012. Photograph courtesy Ryan Anthony Donaldson.

    Walking into the new Visitors Center at New York City Department of Records and Information Services (DORIS), one would never guess that the entire exhibition on display there was completed through volunteer work and with a budget of $60,000. It is not only evident that the displays of memorabilia, photographs, and documents were a labor of love, but also truly impressive that this work was achieved despite prohibitive time and monetary constraints.

    I recently spoke with Eileen Flannelly, DORIS Deputy Commissioner, about the hard work that went into creating the Visitors Center.

    Just a year and a half ago, the cluster of rooms adjoining the City Hall Library were little more than a "dumping ground" for the files and paperwork of former staff. Flannelly's idea to turn the unused space into a public space for the viewing of collections materials was met with little enthusiasm and even less monetary support. In response, she rallied her employees who worked together, without financial compensation, to clear out the space, box up important materials, and dispose of unneeded items. When City Hall officials were brought in to inspect the space, their surprise over the progress was clear. With the subsequent help of a $60,000 grant and the support of her superiors, Flannelly tackled the chore of installing lighting, painting walls, locating storage and display furniture, and general sprucing up. Aided by staff members, and led by Personnel Director Naomi Pacheco and Budget Director Barbara Filiberto, the department was able to createundefinedin the span of a single fiscal year and solely through volunteer laborundefineda sparkling space to showcase the story of New York City as told through its official governmental activities.

    Set amidst stunning black and white photographs taken by Eugene de Salignac, gifts given to former Mayors, and an outpost of the NYC City Store, is a sizable media room. In this room, the public can investigate digitized film, video, and audio materials, including thousands of 16-inch lacquer transcription discs and open reel tapes from the vast WNYC sound collection. MJ Robinson, former Curator of Film and Moving Image for the department's WNYC-TV collection, coordinated the creation of this portion of the space.

    Flannelly says the Visitors Center receives traffic not only from tour groups from historical societies, universities, and law schools, but also from high schools, a demographic group with which she is very interested in engaging. In fact, a group of interns recently completed an innovative project using Facebook: each student was assigned a Mayor (Koch, Lindsay, and La Guardia) and assembled a profile consisting of his photos, important events, and reflections. The project was the focus of a recent meeting of the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Social Media.

    In addition to the Visitors Center, DORIS has recently launched, with much fanfare and acclaim, an online gallery of nearly 900,000 photographs documenting every aspect of life in New York City. This project, the product of seven years' worth of work and counting, was led by Curator of Photography Michael Lorenzini. With the help of a long stream of interns and temporary employees, photographs in a variety of formats were selected, cleaned, digitized, described, and preserved, thereby creating a digital gallery of images that has generated so much international interest that it crashed the department’s servers within minutes of press release.

    On September 13, 2012, the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc. (ART) co-sponsored ART’s monthly program with DORIS, which included a presentation and exclusive tours of the Visitors Center, City Hall Library, and Conservation Lab for over 100 attendees. Many who had visited before were impressed by the transformation that has taken place.

    The general public is welcome to stop by the NYC Department of Records Visitors Center at 31 Chambers Street on Mondays through Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. An informational video is available here.

  • Tuesday, September 18, 2012 12:03 PM | Deleted user
    The Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc. (ART) opposes the $732,626 in budget cuts that will effectively close the Georgia State Archives on November 1, 2012, and have written a Letter in Support of Restoring Funding to the Georgia State Archives to Georgia Governor Nathan Deal.

    The letter has also been sent to Georgia Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. In addition, a copy has been sent to the Coalition to Preserve the Georgia Archives, who hope to present letters opposing the budget cuts to
    Governor Deal on Wednesday, September 19 at the annual Georgia Archives Month proclamation signing.

    More information about how to support the Georgia State Archives is available via the Current Actions section of the Advocacy Committee website.

  • Monday, September 17, 2012 11:23 AM | Deleted user

    As you may have heard, the Georgia State Archives is in danger of being closed due to budget issues in Georgia.  Currently, the Archives is open only two days per week; however, the new budget will close the building to the public entirely and result in major staff layoffs. The closure is slated to take effect on November 1, 2012. Read the Press Release issued by Georgia Secretary of State Brian P. Kemp for further details.


    The ART Board is currently drafting a letter in opposition of the budget cuts to the Georgia State Archives. We are asking you to do the same.


    The deadline to submit letters is this Tuesday, September 18. The Coalition to Preserve the Georgia Archives will present copies of these letters to the Georgia Governor at the annual Georgia Archives Month proclamation signing, scheduled for Wednesday, September 19 at 11 am at the Governor’s Office in the Georgia Capitol Building.

    For key messages and contact info for the governor, see the “Action Alert.“ Please e-mail a copy of your letters to Coalition to Preserve the Georgia Archives Co-Chair Kaye Minchew: kaye@trouparchives.org. Ask your family, friends, co-workers, affiliated organizations, etc., to also send a letter.


    You can also:


    ·       Sign the petition in support of the Georgia Archives

    ·      ‘Like’ the Georgians Against Closing State Archives page on Facebook.


    Thank you in advance for your efforts to save the Georgia State Archives,


    Rachel Chatalbash, President

    Email: president@nycarchivists.org


    Tiffany Colannino, Advocacy Committee Chair

    Email: advocacy@nycarchivists.org


    Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc.

  • Wednesday, September 12, 2012 3:11 PM | Deleted user

    New York Archives Week is almost here!

    Please visit our Archives Week web page for a complete listing of all ART-coordinated Archives Week events or download our 2012 Archives Week calendar here. We are thrilled to announce that approximately twenty-five Archives Week events will be held in New York City this year. On behalf of all participating institutions, we hope you can attend.

    *The Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York recognizes the generous sponsorship of Archives Week by MetLife and the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation.

  • Wednesday, September 12, 2012 11:54 AM | Deleted user
    The Advocacy Committee of the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc. endorses the International Council on ArchivesUniversal Declaration on Archives and agrees that the Declaration is an important step in improving understanding and awareness of archives among the general public and key decision-makers. 

    The ART Advocacy Committee encourages all ART members to review the Universal Declaration on Archives and to show their support for the Declaration by signing the Universal Declaration on Archives Register.

    More information about the Universal Declaration on Archives is available via the Current Actions section of the Advocacy Committee website.

  • Tuesday, September 11, 2012 10:34 AM | Deleted user

    The Advocacy Committee of the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc. supports the efforts of the Archivists Without Borders – U.S. Chapter (AwB-US) working group to bring a chapter of the international Archivists Without Borders organization to the United States.

    The Advocacy Committee has written a letter of support to AwB-US, offering to act as a local resource and contact point for the New York City archives community.

    Full text of the letter is available via the Current Actions section of the Advocacy Committee website.

  • Monday, September 10, 2012 5:17 PM | Anonymous
    Godaddy.com, which hosts the email accounts for the Archivists Round Table (ART), has been adversely affected today due to a hacker attack. As a result, ART is experiencing technical difficulties sending and receiving emails. We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause for ART members and anyone else attempting to contact us. We will let you know as soon as this matter is resolved. Thank you.
    UPDATE: Service has been restored.
  • Sunday, September 09, 2012 1:02 PM | Anonymous member
    On August 31, 2012 the Board of Directors of Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York, Inc. (ART) appointed Karen Murphy as Director of the Education Committee to fill a recently vacated position.  An election to officially fill the position will take place in November at the ART Monthly Meeting and Programming Event.
  • Monday, August 20, 2012 10:21 PM | Anonymous
    by Nick Pavlik, Director, ART Programming Committee

    Originally posted on the New York History blog, 15 August 2012.


    When it comes to the performing arts, New York City may forever be synonymous with the Broadway musical, at least in the popular imagination.

    However, while there’s a lot to be said for Broadway, New Yorkers and performing arts aficionados alike know that if you want to see the work of the most daring and innovative artists working in music, dance, and theatre today, you need to venture far away from the lights of the Great White Way.

    In fact, NYC’s quintessential institution for the contemporary performing arts is not even on the island of Manhattan, but across the East River in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) has gained renown for continuously challenging and surprising audiences through its eclectic offering of groundbreaking music, dance, opera, and theatre performances featuring the work of artists who have consistently contested ideas of what the performing arts can and should be. Throughout the latter half of the 20th century, for instance, BAM provided a platform for new work by such artists as John Adams, Laurie Anderson, Pina Bausch, Peter Brook, Trisha Brown, Merce Cunningham, Philip Glass, Jerzy Grotowski, the Kronos Quartet, Pearl Lang, Mark Morris, Steve Reich, Peter Sellars, and Robert Wilson, to name only a few.

    Founded in 1861, BAM has been celebrating its 150th anniversary this past year through a wealth of exciting programs, one of which has been the BAM 150 Exhibition in the main lobby of BAM’s Peter Jay Sharp Building. The 150 exhibition documents BAM’s rich history through the presentation of documents, photographs, video, and other material from BAM’s Hamm Archives. In recognition of the remarkable depth of this exhibition, the Archivists Round Table of Metropolitan New York (ART) recently interviewed Sharon Lehner, Director of the BAM Hamm Archives, who was happy to shed some light on the Hamm Archives and the particulars of putting the exhibition together.

    ART: Before we get into discussing the wonderful 150th Anniversary exhibition, can you briefly explain your responsibilities as Director of the BAM Hamm Archives?

    SL: My main responsibilities are to represent BAM’s collections to the general public and to the scholarly community at large, and to support the day-to-day operations of the institution.

    ART: The 150th Anniversary exhibition must have been quite an undertaking! Was it something BAM had planned for a long time? When did the actual setup process begin?

    SL: The 150 exhibition was planned as part of a sixteen-month celebration of BAM’s 150th that included landmark performances and films, iconic artist talks, a commemorative book, a documentary film, and the 150 exhibit. We began working on the exhibit about a year before it opened.

    ART: As co-curator, can you describe the role you played in the planning and implementation of the exhibit?

    SL: I have worked with David Harper, BAM art curator, on a number of exhibits. We both like to do everything, so our roles were not clearly defined. Like many projects at BAM, we had a lot of creative collaborators, including people from press, marketing, design, digital media, and general management to name only a few. We even worked together with the special events team to create the décor for the BAM 150 Gala.

    ART: What types of material have visitors been able to see in the exhibition? Are there any items that you are particularly excited to have seen make the cut?

    SL: Because of the highly visual nature of BAM’s contemporary work, we featured many photographs, video, slideshows, posters, and contact sheets. We felt it fitting to display SWAG because of BAM’s strong brand identity. We also included lighting plots and other performance elements. For a look “inside” the institution, we included some correspondence such as a funny exchange between Polish theatre director Jerzy Grotowski and BAM President Emeritus Harvey Lichtenstein.

    ART: Most visitors to the exhibit are surely aware of the important role BAM has played throughout the history of the performing arts in America. But BAM has served other purposes as well throughout its long history as a center of Brooklyn's cultural life. Are there any aspects of BAM's history featured in the exhibit that have likely come as a surprise to visitors?

    SL: In part 1 of the exhibit, 1861-1967, we featured way too many dance cards. I just love dance cards. They are beautifully designed for festive events and they document what a diverse community Brooklyn has been since 1861.

    ART: It was recently announced that the BAM Hamm Archives have received a $1 million grant from the Leon Levy Foundation to create the Leon Levy BAM Digital Archive. What will be the scope and extent of this exciting project?

    SL: We are so grateful to the Levy Foundation for their support. The grant will be used to catalogue, selectively digitize, and make available many gems from the oldest performing arts center in the country for the first time.

    There's still time to see the BAM 150 Exhibition before it closes on August 31st! More information about BAM's 150th Anniversary can be found at http://www.bam.org/about/150-years.

    Photos, from top: Program for performance featuring Isadora Duncan Dancers and pianist George Copeland; poster for BAM debut of Pina Bausch's Tanztheater Wuppertal, 1984; Amaranth dance card, 1875.

  • Monday, August 06, 2012 10:50 PM | Anonymous

    Scientific (Re)Discoveries: Hidden Collections at the American Museum of Natural History

    By Haley Richardson, Archivists Round Table Reporter

    Archival materials in the Frank Boas Photo Collection illustrate the stark differences in levels of archival processing found by archivists working on the Hidden Collections project. Photo by Lauren Dzura.

    In February 2011, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) Research Library staff embarked upon two grant-funded projects designed to inventory and assess library and archives collections from the museum's science divisions. As part of these ongoing projects, teams of student interns collect basic information on uncatalogued collections of photos, correspondence, monographs, drawings, slides, and other formats from all departments. At the end of each semester-long cataloging phase, this metadata is transformed into a Machine-Readable Cataloging (MARC) record using MarcEdit, added to the AMNH Research Library OPAC, or transformed in to an EAD-encoded archival finding aid, to be later fleshed out based on newly discovered connections and current research interests. Some of the metadata will also be included in the museum's contributions to the Field Book Registry, which is being developed and hosted by the Smithsonian Institution Archives. In further fulfillment of project goals, a risk assessment phase is planned for inclusion in a larger, museum-wide survey of collections.

    As teams of students plow through the collections, they are also creating a magnificent account of their work through the Hidden Collections project
    blog. The posts, many of which include photos and links to outside sources, read like diary records of archival intrigue. An intern may become fascinated by a photo and compose an entry devoted solely to a long-forgotten photographer or revered subject, or perhaps the puzzle of inventorying mixed-media collections might inspire a post soliciting help from supervisors and other interns. The sense of discovery evident in each entry is enough to make any history or science buff a bit jealous and may infect even the most world-weary archivist with a renewed sense of purpose and excitement. Lovers of data collection and information organization will enjoy reading about the development of workflows for data conversion, especially when they include flowcharts. Squirrel lovers, too, will find something of interest here.

    At an Archivists Round Table presentation
     in June, AMNH Archivist Barbara Mathé, along with Project Archivists Iris Lee and Rebecca Morgan, described the projects, specifically the planned methodology for metadata collection and repurposing, as well as future plans for creating complex authority records to facilitate the use of linked data. The linked data will aid in connecting records within the institution, as well as connecting distributed data sets across the web and far beyond the AMNH's walls.

    Although the collected metadata is very basic at this stage, archivists Lee and Morgan have already noted the project's impact on museum staff. Long-term volunteers have gotten involved in the inventorying effort by processing collections, creating finding aids, and beginning the task of defining controlled authorities. Just having the archival materials out of storage seems to be inspiring staff members to research and use the long-forgotten items. “Keeping an open conversation with the reference librarians and other employees in the Library about the work that we are doing has been a useful exercise for discovering related material or simply finding out about resources we did not realize we had,” they said.

    One project goal- the repurposing of collected data sets to create linked data 
    within the institution- is certainly on many archivists' minds these days. Lee and Morgan underscore the importance of extensible mark up, saying they are constantly thinking about ways to include linked data in the project metadata and catalog records by utilizing library and archives standards such as EAD and EAC-CPF, controlled vocabularies, and Google Refine technologies. To date, they have successfully repurposed the spreadsheet data collected by interns into a risk assessment database.

    Thank you to Barbara Mathé, Iris Lee, Rebecca Morgan, and Laurie Duke for their help with this blog post. The AMNH Research Library also would like to thank the
    Council on Library and Information Resources and the Institute for Museum and Library Services for their support.

    Check out the project blog here: http://images.library.amnh.org/hiddencollections/

questions? communications@nycarchivists.org

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